Democrat Moran Fails to Ban Styrofoam from House Cafeterias

Jerad McHenry | July 14, 2011 | 3:44pm EDT
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Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) at a March 17, 2011 hearing on the loss of royalty fees for the production of oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico. ( Starr)

( – Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has failed in a bid to secure a proposed amendment to the 2012 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill that would ban Styrofoam products from congressional cafeterias.

The amendment, introduced Wednesday, failed to pass the House Appropriations Committee on a 26-18 vote, along party lines.

The amendment reads in part: “(N)one of the funds made available in this act may be used to obtain polystyrene products for use in food service facilities of the House.”

The push to ban Styrofoam follows comments Moran made last month at a rally held at George Mason University, on its Arlington, Va., campus, to protest the “corporate dominance of our democracy.”

Moran said the House of Representatives was forcing the government to purchase Styrofoam cups, which he said were not environmentally sustainable, and which were produced by Koch Industries, a company headed by two brothers who support a variety of conservative causes.

"As soon as the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, they threw out all of the biodegradable utensils we were using in the cafeterias and they required us to buy Styrofoam cups and plates and so on that are manufactured by Dixie and, in fact, this is part of Koch Industries,” Moran said.  

Despite Moran’s assertions that the move to Styrofoam was mandated by House Republicans and was a parlay to Koch Industries, the move to Styrofoam was decided upon by the House cafeterias themselves, and the Styrofoam used in House dining facilities is not even made by Koch Industries.

The House cafeterias, which are operated by Restaurant Associates, utilize WinCup as their supplier. WinCup is a leading manufacturer of foam disposable cups, bowls, containers and lids. It is not owned by Koch Industries and is a competitor for Dixie.

When the 112th Congress took office in January, House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) ended the Green Capitol Initiative, under which corn-based, biodegradable utensils were used.

But the California Republican said in a news release that an inspector general’s report found that the $475,000 composting program – which had been implemented by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) -- had led to a negligible reduction in carbon but had actually increased energy consumption in the form of "additional energy for the pulping process and the increased hauling distance to the composting facility."

“I would like to assure the House community that this committee will continue to evaluate all components of House operations and will work with the appropriate agencies to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices when feasible,” Lungren said in the statement.

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